Veteran Unscripted Exec Heather Olander Exits NBCUniversal

Heather Olander
Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Another longtime NBCUniversal executive is leaving the company as a result of its corporate restructuring.

Heather Olander, who most recently served as exec vp alternative at Peacock, USA Network and Syfy, will exit the company following a transition period. A homegrown talent who spent a decade with the conglomerate, she ushered USA Network into the unscripted space and greenlit veteran hit Chrisley Knows Best as well as reboots of Temptation Island, The Biggest Loser and Cannonball.

Olander joined the company in 2011 as senior vp alternative at USA Network and added Syfy to her purview three years later. When Bonnie Hammer hand-picked Bill McGoldrick to oversee originals for Peacock, the latter recruited Olander to handle unscripted for the streamer in late 2019. During her tenure with NBCU, she has also developed and overseen series including Syfy's Alien News Desk, Miz & Mrs. and Real Country and helped launch live events at San Diego Comic-Con as part of the cabler's push to better integrate fandom into its brand.

Her decision to leave is a direct result of NBCU's restructuring, which put all entertainment programming under a division headed by Susan Rovner. The former Warner Bros. TV exec announced her senior leadership team last month and installed E! and Oxygen exec Rod Aissa and NBC's Jenny Groom to split unscripted responsibilities for the broadcast network, Peacock and all of the company's cable brands. That means Olander, whose name was floated as a candidate, would have moved from overseeing unscripted for Peacock, USA and Syfy to reporting to both Aissa and Groom.

With Rovner at the helm of the sprawling entertainment content portfolio, there was no position left for longtime NBCU execs including USA and Syfy president Chris McCumber and McGoldrick, the latter of whom oversaw originals for Peacock as well as USA and Syfy. McGoldrick stepped down in November after Rovner unveiled her team, which included Lisa Katz as head of scripted. McCumber departed in September and has already landed a top role at Blumhouse Television.

Another round of layoffs at NBCU is expected to come early next year as a result of the consolidation of creative teams at the company. Execs who worked in unscripted at Bravo, for example, will now be consolidated into one centralized development team charged with developing programming for the entire TV portfolio.